Is the hype train behind undefeated fighter Israel Adesanya (15-0) for real?
We will soon find out this coming Saturday (Sunday in Manila), as the 29-year-old will face his toughest task to date against Anderson Silva in the co-main event of UFC 234 in Melbourne, Australia.
Still a a relatively unknown prospect to most casual fans, the undefeated striker of Nigerian-New Zealand descent is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC roster and is even seen by many as the next big thing.
Fittingly personified by his moniker the ‘The Last Style Bender’, Adesanya brings a mix of flare and technicality to his strikes and is often compared to lightheavyweight great Jon Jones and even viewed similar to the younger version of his next opponent Silva. Adesanya is also quite the crowd pleaser, having won three Performance of the Night awards in his first four UFC fights.
Adesanya made his introduction to the UFC coincidentally in Australia, when he faced fellow undefeated fighter Rob Wilkinson in Perth last year.
After wowing the crowd with his unreal athleticism, Adesanya finished the hometown favorite in round 2 with a devastating combination of knees and punches that left his opponent a bloody mess.
Split decision vs Vettori
After making quick work of Wilkinson in his first fight in the octagon, Adesanya proved he can weather adversity by going the distance against an equally game opponent in Marvin Vettori.
After exchanging heavy blows for three rounds, it was Adesanya who got his hand raised by displaying terrific head movement and outstanding takedown defense.
First real test against Brad Tavares
With two impressive wins on his cap, fans and pundits were curious to see how the flamboyant fighter will do against a top 15 opponent. Adesanya was fed to the wolves when he faced the powerful Brad Tavares.
Using his length to keep Tavares at bay, Adesanya showcased how effective of a counter-striker he can be by returning all of Tavares’ powerful haymakers, while displaying an unapologetic bravado while doing so.
He also showed impressive endurance in his first five-round match en-route to a unanimous decision victory.
Rise to contendership status
Adesanya was ready to put his name to the shortlist of 185-lb. contenders when he agreed to take on feared finisher Derek Brunson at UFC 230.
Living up to the immense hype behind him, Adesanya showed how scary he can be by running circles around the UFC veteran in round 1. Sensing an opportunity to end the fight early, Adesanya went for the jugular and knocked out Brunson with another mix of precise and devastating strikes.